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ARM upgrades Cortex-M0 processor for low-power applications

Microcontrollers made to ARM's new Cortex-M0+ design will the most efficient on the market, the company said

ARM has introduced a new chip design, the Cortex-M0+, which will be used to control or monitor objects like interactive fridges, car engine systems, smart lighting and medical monitoring equipment. The 32-bit processor uses about one-third of the energy used by existing 8- or 16- bit processors, according to ARM.The Cortex-M0+ is a microcontroller unit, a small computer with a processor core and memory on a single integrated circuit. It is designed for embedded systems, where there is an increasing demand for such chips in devices including smart sensors.

Compared to ARM's existing Cortex-M0 design, the Cortex-M0+ offers faster communication with peripherals and reduced power consumption when accessing flash memory, the company said. It remains software compatible with other members of the Cortex-M processor family.

ARM is aiming the new microcontroller at small wirelessly connected devices providing communication, management and maintenance functions. It said it optimized the new design for low power consumption and low cost. It predicted that chips made to the design will be the most energy-efficient microcontrollers on the market.The Cortex-M0+ chips can be used in battery-operated body sensors, and will also be useful for wireless sensors that analyze performance of domestic and industrial buildings. Existing 8- and 16-bit microcontrollers aren't smart enough for such purposes, ARM said.The chip designer has announced licensing deals for the Cortex-M0+ with Freescale Semiconductor and NXP Semiconductors, which will manufacture chips incorporating ARM's design.

ARM is better-known as the designer of the processor cores used in Apple's iPhone, and in most smartphones running Android or Windows Phone.

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